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Canadian Rockies

Ready to Play

In the spring of 2018, five years after the flood, the rebuilt Kananaskis Country Golf Course will be once again open to the public.

By: Jack Newton

Recently I visited an old friend whom I hadn’t seen in four years. Even though she had been under the weather and had endured a long road to recovery, she looked great and gave me a warm welcome.

My friendship with the Kananaskis Golf Course began at her public debut in 1983. Like most Alberta golfers, I was captivated by the mountain beauty that architect Robert Trent Jones famously called “the best natural setting I’ve ever been given to work with.” After depleting my mulligans and duffing yet another drive, her clear Kananaskis River waters and steadfast Mt Kid views would soothe my high handicap soul.

In June 2013, the Kananaskis Golf Course fell victim to the floods that ravaged southern Alberta. Trees were uprooted, pathways were ripped apart, and fairways were buried under tons of mud. Although the destructive side of Mother Nature was fully revealed, no one guessed that it would take four long years and $18 million dollars before golfers would again ply these Rocky Mountain links.

The picturesque Kananaskis River in September 2018 bears little resemblance to the ranging torrent that destroyed the Kananaskis Country Golf Golf Course during the June 2103 flood.

I was amongst the first to return. As an invitee at the September 19, 2017 Sneak-a-Peek media event, I was privileged to play the Kananaskis Golf Course eight months before its public reopening scheduled for May 2018.

During their pre-game presentation, course general manger, Darren Robinson, and head of golf, Bob Paley, spoke from the heart. “We want this place to again to offer decompression, connection for friends and family, and engagement with nature,” they said. “To have people ride into this golf course in a vehicle other than a dump truck is pretty special. It’s really good to get some hugs.”

Out on the course, the crisp air, sun-bathed peaks, and camaraderie of my fellow golfers (plus a hot turkey sandwich from the new Mount Lorette Snack Shack) contributed to the enjoyment of the day. But most impressive was the course itself.

Calgary golf course architect, Gary Browning, and a legion of landscape contractors were tasked with the rebuild. “They are artists,” Robinson had enthused during his presentation, “the skill set employed to restore this course is humbling.”

During construction, Browning and course operator, Kan-Alta Golf Management, conspired to make a good thing better. “We had a fresh start,” noted Robinson, “so we went hole-by-hole to see what could be improved.”

Championship golf courses of the 1980s such as Kananaskis were built to challenge. “The tougher the better,” suggested Paley at the presentation. But by 2017 the paradigm had shifted; today the objective is to make courses more playable. Indeed, recreational golfers like me want to a play their round in less time, and we’re no longer eager to be beaten up in the process.

So now, the new Kananaskis Golf Course features two extra forward tees. Golfers can choose from six tee box options and play a round from 3800 to 7250 yards. During our game we drove from the third box, positions that were called ‘ladies’ tees’ in less politically correct times.

Fairway bunkers that previously consumed balls of less-skilled practitioners were eliminated or reduced in size. Plus, popular nineteenth hole facilities have been rebuilt so that they are bigger and better. Snack shacks are more elaborate, and the clubhouse patio is twice its former size.

Photo Credit: Steve Baylin

Despite all the money spent and the improvements made, I found the new Kananaskis Golf Course to look and play pretty much as I remember. This is a good thing. The fabulous Robert Trent Jones layout that won so many awards and endeared itself to so many golfers remains intact.

Since the pace of play was faster and I was more easily able to avoid hazards, I concede that my old friend has mellowed a bit with age. But she’s still an enticing beauty with charms to draw me back to her presence.

If You Plan to Play:

-Kananaskis Country Golf Course is taking corporate group bookings now. Call 1-403-591-7070.
-Individuals will be able to book tee times for the 2018 season in March. Call 1-403-591-7070 or visit kananaskisgolf.com.
-The Mount Lorrette course was fully restored by Fall 2017; its 18 holes will be ready to play in May 2018. Nine holes of the Mount Kidd course will open soon after, and by July 2018 all 36 holes will be hosting golfers.

Photo Cred: Steve Baylin

My golfing partners at the September 19, 2017 Sneak a Peek media event were Impact Magazine editor Chris Welner, Calgary Herald columnist David Parker and CBC Radio Homestretch host Doug Dirks. All three are better golfers than me.

 

 

Take a Hike!

Today is the last day of summer, but the smell of pumpkin spice has been creeping into the Canadian Rockies for at least a week as the temperatures have been steadily dropping. As sad as we are to bid another summer farewell, we are equally excited to usher in a colourful fall filled with new adventures and hiking. If you are visiting the Canadian Rockies for the first time, you are in for a treat: it’s larch season! Because we want you to make the most of your visit, we’ve turned to expert hiker, Marie-Eve Bilodeau (the Mini Mule), to give us some of the best larch hikes in the Canadian Rockies.

If you are in the Lake Louise area, Marie-Eve recommends Larch Valley, the Tea House at Lake Louise, and Saddleback-Fairview Mountain. Should your visit have you in and around Banff, try exploring Taylor Lake or Healy Pass. Finally, if you are on your way to the Rockies from Calgary, consider stopping at Chester Lake/Chester Creek for a mid-drive hike.

We recommend that you visit Marie-Eve’s website for information on the hikes (and to get some ideas for other fantastic hikes in the Rockies).

Some the of scenery on the way to Chester Lake.
Photo Credit: Marie-Eve Bilodeau

For trail conditions, closures, and warnings, visit:

Kananaskis Trail Reports

Banff National Park Trail Report

Jasper National Park Trail Report

Yoho National Park Trail Report

Kootney National Park Trail Report

-Happy hiking!

Canmore’s Summer Shopping List

By Keili Bartlett and Kaitlyn Forde

Venture into Canmore’s shops to see what the locals get up to when they’re not on alpine adventures. Creations of all kinds are inspired and made here.

Custom Made

Rudi Peet Canmore Jewellery

Where Canadian Rockies staff love the flowing, nature inspired shapes of Rudi Peet jewellery. Artist Alex Mukai Jr and publisher Jack Newton both commissioned Peet to design and handcraft their wives’ engagement rings, while associate publisher Glenn Miles purchased a Swiss watch for his wife. All three bring jewellery to Peet for quality repairs. “I trust him completely,” says Mukai.

Cherry on Top

Canary Frozen Yogurt Canmore

We’ve got the scoop on the best fro-yo in town. Canary Frozen Yogurt and Coffee’s cool, creamy creations start with homemade frozen yogurt or dairy-free sorbet. Choose from eight flavours, then add your favourite fresh fruit, candy and nut toppings. Indulge in a sugar high or a healthy-ish treat; the choice is yours!

DIY Souvenir

Canmore Quilt Sugar Pine

Do more than purchase a souvenir. Create your own! Sugar Pine Co Quilting and Knitting Shop Rockies-inspired quilting kits with unique and eclectic patterns of wildlife and mountains attract tourists of all ages. More of a knitter? Stop by Yarn and Co. for high-quality Canadian wool as well as classes for all levels. Check back in September 30 to October 1 for the Mountain Cabin Quilters Guild Show to see more than 100 quilts (some for sale!).

Sugar Pine Canmore Quilt Show

>> For more Canadian Rockies activities, shops, restaurants and entertainment, read our digital magazine.

>> Connect with us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram at whererockies and tag your Canadian Rockies posts and photos with #whererockies

Banff’s Sizzling Summer Style and Souvenirs

By Keili Bartlett and Kaitlyn Forde

Whether its the lifestyle or just the style, take your favourite part of Banff home. These momentos will whisk you back to your summer in the mountains, no matter how far you may get.

Mountain Style Makeover

Canadian Fashion Xperience espy Rebecca King Read more…

Everything on Our Jasper Summer Shopping List

By Where writers

From what you’ll wear on the trail to what you’ll eat on it, here’s everything we recommend for a summer stay in Jasper.

Rub Some Dirt on It

Fjallraven Wild Mountain Jasper

Looking for a mountainwear staple? Vidda Pro cargo pants by Fjällräven handle anything you throw at them (literally). Wild Mountain’s Dave MacDowell has a customer who wears a pair that’s 20 years old! Dave recommends applying Fjällräven Greenland Wax (originally used to waterproof tents) to make ‘em even more durable.

Trail Wear for All

Columbia On-Line Sport jasper

On-Line Sport displays the largest selection of Columbia Sportswear in the Canadian Rockies. “We fit all shapes and sizes,” notes store owner Mike Merlovich. Waterproof shells, fleece, convertible zip pants and fashion styles in plus sizes range from 1X to 3X for women and XXL to XXXL for men.

Inside Out

Maaji bikini Mountain Air Jasper

One bikini purchase; four style options. Maaji makes it possible by engineering reversible, mix-and-match tops and bottoms. Columbian sisters Manuela and Amalia Sierra refer to their bathing suit creations as “little pieces of art.” Their Jasper dealer Karen Jacobs at Mountain Air notes, “It’s unlikely that you’ll ever see another person wearing the same swimsuit as yours.”

A Cut Above

Slice and Dice Knives Jasper

Boris Bukovec reflects his German craftsman roots. At Slice & Dice Knives, this fourth generation blacksmith uses traditional methods to forge kitchen, folding and hunting knives as well as handmade leather sheaths. Picture an anvil, red-hot metal and a hammer turning Damascus steel (and even railway spikes) into quality blades. Also buy Boris’ beard products, inspired by his once chest-length facial hair.

Heed Your Health

Nutters Jasper

On vacation, but your diet isn’t? Head to Nutter’s Bulk & Natural Foods to stay on track. The quaint natural food store helps you stay health-conscious with organic and alternative options. Find trail snacks, energy foods, vitamins, supplements, health and skincare products, and even treats for your dog.

Heal with Crystals and… Fudge?

Jasper Rock and Jade

I intended to interview Jasper Rock & Jade owner Neil Byatt about crystals. But he could not stop raving about his fudge that is shipped worldwide and offered in classic and unexpected flavours like maple, cookies and cream, and carrot cake (their most popular). Have a free sample as you browse the shop’s array of gems and rocks that are available rough or polished, set in jewellery and as collector pieces.

>> For more Canadian Rockies activities, shops, restaurants and entertainment, read our digital magazine.

>> Connect with us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram at whererockies and tag your Canadian Rockies posts and photos with #whererockies

Canmore’s Street Art

By Where writers

Greeting visitors with a quiet welcome is Canmore's Big Head.

Greeting visitors with a quiet welcome is Canmore’s Big Head.

The Big Head sculpture comes to mind first as Canmore’s most recognizable public art installation. This summer a new contender joins the scene when the colourful Canada 150 mural is unveiled June 30 at the Civic Centre.

Read more…

Fun Ways to Sightsee

By Where writers

There are many sights to see in the Canadian Rockies, and plenty of ways to see them. Here are a few options:

Photo courtesy of Banff Trail Riders

Photo courtesy of Banff Trail Riders

  • By Bike: Rent one and ride to views off the beaten path. ROAM Public Transit and Hike ‘n’ Bike Shuttle allow one-way routes, while Rebound Cycle gives tours.
  • Walk and Talk: Learn about mountaineering and local legends on Discover Banff Tours guided hikes of the “jewels of the Canadian Rockies,” Lake Louise and Lake Morraine.
  • Giddy-Up: Discover the Old West atop a horse for an hour, day or overnight.
  • Your Way and the Highway: Download a GyPSy Guide driving tour app that automatically plays at activation points without data or cell service.
  • Hop on Banff: Jump off and on the bus to explore your choice of Banff, Bow Valley Parkway and Lake Louise attractions (403-609-5242).
  • Ultimate Explorer: Visit ultimate-explorer.com to buy value priced combo passes to popular Pursuit attractions like Banff Gondola, Mountain Lake Cruise and Glacier Adventure.

>> For more Canadian Rockies activities, shops, restaurants and entertainment, read our digital magazine.

>> Connect with us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram at whererockies and tag your Canadian Rockies posts and photos with #whererockies

What To Do in Jasper this Summer

By Where writers

Jasper comes alive in summer. Here are five things to do while you’re there:

Guided Glacier

Photo courtesy of Athabasca Glacier Icewalks

Photo courtesy of Athabasca Glacier Icewalks

The Athabasca Glacier at the Columbia Icefield is 6 km long, up to 300 metres thick and studded with caves, cravasses (cracks), seracs (columns and ridges) and millwells (holes where water flows). Get there by the scenic Icefield Parkway, then venture onto the ice during a guided tour.

Note: It’s dangerous to glacier icewalk on your own.

Best by Bike

Photo by Ryan Bray

Photo by Ryan Bray

This off road (but easy) cycling loop offers views, a beach and luxury hotel amenities. From your bike rental shop, ride south on the trail by Hwy 93A then turn left to Old Fort Point; rack your bike and walk the stairs to a stunning vista. Continue around Lac Beauvert to Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge restaurants and activities. Take crushed gravel Trail 18 to Lake Annette beach, playground and picnic site. Detour to Maligne Canyon 5th Bridge for a canyon rim walk, or ride directly back to town via Big Horn Alley Trail 13.

Chasing Waterfalls

Photo courtesy of Rocky Mountain Canyoning

Photo courtesy of Rocky Mountain Canyoning

A stroll over the footbridges of Maligne Canyon is an iconic and accessible experience. But to truly immerse yourself in the crooks and crags, sign up for a Rocky Mountain Canyoning  adventure. Four canyons offer differing levels of difficulty and duration. “Aided by technical gear, we take you on a wilderness journey that can include rope work like rappelling plus sliding, hiking, climbing and swimming,” says guide Trevor Lesgard.

Green with Envy

Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge

Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge

SCOREGolf Magazine’s top rated golf resort in Canada that opened in 1925 was meticulously created by Stanley Thompson, our country’s most famous golf course architect. The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge Golf Club features elevated tee boxes, 73 bunkers (many dramatic), holes in line with peaks and wide fairways that follow natural contours. This course blends beautiful landscapes with a world-class golf experience.

Get Hooked

Photo courtesy of On-Line Sport and Tackle

Photo courtesy of On-Line Sport and Tackle

Wade into a glacier-fed stream and learn how to fly fish. Jasper guides know the best spots, and teach you how to “read” the water and find the seven fish species native to the area. On-line Sport & Tackle guide Ryan Catherwood is hooked; he fishes everyday before, during and after work. “It’s peaceful,” he says. You’re “one with nature, in the water and surrounded by mountains.”

>> For more Canadian Rockies activities, shops, restaurants and entertainment, read our digital magazine.

>> Connect with us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram at whererockies and tag your Canadian Rockies posts and photos with #whererockies

Seven Sizzling Summer Activities in the Mountains

By Where writers

Summer is well underway, and hopefully so is your bucket list! If you need help figuring out the best way to spend your time the Canadian Rockies, look no further.

Banff by Boat

Photo courtesy of Brewster Inc.

Photo courtesy of Brewster Inc.

Thanks to a new Roam bus route, isolated Lake Minnewanka is more accessible than ever. Take the classic 1.5 hour Banff Lake Cruise. Or, book a specialty trip such as First Nations history and myths, park wildlife or family excursion. On our cruise we nibbled cheese and sipped wine as our guide shared tips for photographing the landscape. We disembarked with beautiful photos, full bellies and a desire to return for another themed tour.

Canoe Like a Canadian

Photo by Dan Evans

Photo by Dan Evans

To find a peaceful activity with mountain views and wildlife spotting opportunities minutes from downtown Banff, walk three blocks to the Banff Canoe Club docks. Every canoe, kayak and stand up paddleboard rental includes basic instruction before you paddle the tranquil river, creek and lake waters. Tip: joining the Club saves you money if you rent for more than one hour.

Dog Days of Summer

Photo courtesy of Yamnuska Dog Sanctuary

Photo courtesy of Yamnuska Dog Sanctuary

Howl along with man’s (and woman’s) best friend as you tour the Snowy Owl Sled Dog Kennel or Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary. Both facilities offer experts to explain unique breed behaviours, and opportunities to interact with the animals. Have your own pal? Let ‘em run free at Banff Off Leash Dog Park or Quarry Lake Park in Canmore.

Climb On

Norquary Via Ferrata Pic 3

Last fall I tackled Mt Norquay’s Via Ferrata course of assisted rock climbs, scrambles and a swinging suspended bridge. Despite knowing that my harness would always be fastened safely to the handholds or cables, I was nervous when approaching the first pitch. My adrenaline level was elevated, my heart rate increased and my hands trembled. But once I stepped on to the first rung, my feelings changed to pure exhilaration! The route was dynamic and fun, allowing for spectacular views of Cascade Mountain and Mount Rundle.

Off the Beaten Path

Mount Engadine Lodge. Photo by Sebastian Buzzalino

Mount Engadine Lodge. Photo by Sebastian Buzzalino

Live clandestinely at Mount Engadine Lodge in Kananaskis. Although accessible by car, the lodge still possesses a solitary ambience. Sip your drink on the deck and overlook a mountain-ringed meadow often frequented by wildlife. Reserve a meal or drop in for afternoon tea by the fireplace in the rustic dining room. Enquire about hiking and fishing hotspots; bagged lunches are available if you call ahead.

Reach New Heights

Photo courtesy of Rockies Heli Canada

Photo courtesy of Rockies Heli Canada

I’ve been a passenger on many planes, but flying in a helicopter was a first. On my Rockies Heli Canada tour, the hovering sensation was exciting and smoother than expected. Soaring above towering mountains revealed a breathtaking new perspective. We landed in a high alpine meadow to hike an otherwise inaccessible area, and chatted with our pilot over tea. You can also pair your flight with yoga, camping or horse riding. Whichever adventure you choose, you’ll enjoy the ride.

Take Your Shot

Photo courtesy of Try Biathlon

Photo courtesy of Try Biathlon

Get your heart racing, bring it back down quickly and take your best shot at the Canmore Nordic Centre rifle range. The Try Biathlon class includes Bond-worthy action shots. Are you up for it?

>> For more Canadian Rockies activities, shops, restaurants and entertainment, read our digital magazine.

>> Connect with us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram at whererockies and tag your Canadian Rockies posts and photos with #whererockies

Eye on the Sky in Jasper

By Keili Bartlett

Join the Jasper Planetarium to watch the 2017 solar eclipse. Photo courtesy of NASA.

Join the Jasper Planetarium to watch the 2017 solar eclipse. Photo courtesy of NASA.

What’s up in Jasper? The astronomy experts at the Jasper Planetarium would love to show you! Aided by a domed star theatre and the largest telescopes in the Rockies, these interpreters reveal Jasper’s Dark Sky Preserve in all its glory.

Read more…

Canada Live on Stage at the Lux

By Keili Bartlett

This summer, live theatre takes centre stage at the Lux Cinema. Director Bridget Ryan offers three “hilarious and heart-warming,” plays that celebrate Canada’s beauty, community and music:

  • Family-friendly The Adventures of the Curious Bear and the Red Canoe follows a bear on the move across our country (2 pm, Tues-Sat, every 2nd Sun)
  • Canada the Musical features “every Canadian song you know and love.” (7 pm Tues-Sat)
  • The Mavericks of the Mountains introduces stories, adventures and stand-out personalities from our past (4 pm, Tues-Sat, every 2nd Sun)

Watch them perform Jun 22-Sep 3.

>> For more Canadian Rockies activities, shops, restaurants and entertainment, read our digital magazine.

>> Connect with us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram at whererockies and tag your Canadian Rockies posts and photos with #whererockies

Limited Access Hike at Edith Cavell

By Jack Newton

Photo by Travel Alberta

Photo by Travel Alberta

Highlights of the Path of the Glacier and Cavell Meadows hike (open June 19-Sept 18) are Angel Glacier, an iceberg-filled pond and alpine terrain ablaze with wildflowers. This summer, construction on Cavell Road and parking lot requires hikers to obtain one of 180 free vehicle access permits dispensed daily from Jasper Information Centre from 8 to 10 am, up to two days before their trip. Staggered road access times are between 8:30 am and 8 pm. Alternatively, book a Cavell Meadows interpretive tour; local guides have road access priority.

>> For more Canadian Rockies activities, shops, restaurants and entertainment, read our digital magazine.

>> Connect with us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram at whererockies and tag your Canadian Rockies posts and photos with #whererockies